RuPaul Andre Charles has said she “still believes in the power of love” despite a global increase in anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-drag hate.
On Friday (16 December) the Drag Race host made an appearance on NBC’s Today show where he discussed anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment across the US.
“It’s such a tragedy how our country has become so divided, and it really breaks my heart.
“I pray for our country and the world, really, and I still believe in the power of love,” she said.
The Emmy-winning drag queen’s words follow LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation GLAAD publishing a report which highlights threats against drag events in the US this year.
According to the report, there have been at least 141 protests and significant threats against drag events.
The cited incidents targeted drag events in 47 states, with Texas being the state responsible for 20 of the protests and threats.
During the discussion RuPaul told Today’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager that he was “most proud of” the success of his competition series’ contestants.
According to NBC News many of the show’s stars have hired armed guards for their tours in light of the increase in anti-drag attacks.
RuPaul said: “We started the show as a celebration of drag, to celebrate the art of drag, and also the courageous hearts of these kids who come up from homes — a lot of times they’re thrown out of their homes — but they find a place on our show and they find an audience.
“And they are traveling the world. They’re doing their own shows, movies. They’re doing it all. It’s great.”
GLAAD’s report also noted bills seeking to restrict drag, such as one introduced in Tennessee last month.
The bill aims to ban drag queens from performing on public or private property in the presence of a minor. If signed into law, repeat offenders could face up to six years in jail.
Incidents involving violence or weapons are also highlighted in GLAAD’s report, with extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Patriot Front being involved in several incidents.
One of those incidents saw a gang of alleged Proud Boys attempt to disrupt a Pride Month Family Storytime event in a Texas library.
Extremist groups including the Proud Boys have made headlines for protesting at drag events including brunches and Story Time events throughout the year, with five men reportedly hijacking a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a library in California in June.
Rhetoric against drag events has also come from politicians, with Republican Texas state representative Bryan Slaton announcing plans in June to ban children from attending drag performances.
In Florida, supported by anti-LGBTQ+ governor Ron DeSantis, state representative Anthony Sabatini said he wanted to make it a felony offence and “terminate the parental rights of any adult who brings a child to these perverted sex shows”.
Surge in anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-drag hate across UK and US
In the UK, recent Home Office figures detail at least 155,841 recorded hate crimes from March 2021 to March 2022.
According to the report hate crimes rose by about 26 per cent from the previous year. This is the most significant increase in reported hate crimes since 2016/17, when stats showed a 29 per cent increase compared to 2015/16.
A report commissioned by the Vodafone Foundation found the majority of LGBTQ+ hate crime victims fail to report to police because they feel it’s “too minor” and they don’t trust the service.
In the US, anti-LGBTQ+ protests by far-right extremists are up by 340 per cent compared to 12 months ago.
According to the report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), extremists have taken part in at least 55 events and protests targeting the LGBTQ+ community in 2022, up from 16 in 2021.
On Tuesday (13 December), the West Midlands Police Department announced the New Rainbow StreetWatch initiative, which will put individuals on the streets to protect the city’s queer community.
RuPaul previously slammed attempts to condemn drag shows, however, saying on The Late Late Show that banning children from going to drag shows is a “diversion tactic”.
RuPauls Drag Race launched in 2009 and has so far won 26 Emmy Awards.